Woman enjoying music with headphones but protecting her hearing.

Individuals who work in loud surroundings such as construction sites or at heavy metal concerts are not the only people impacted by noise related hearing loss. It doesn’t even need to be work-related, recreation-related noise exposure can be dangerous, also. What kind of exposure are we discussing? Music, gaming, streaming video or anything that you would listen to through headphones or earbuds.

You may not think your smartphone or tablet can go that loud. The typical pain threshold for human hearing is about 150 db which is in the range of these devices. This is the volume where noise begins to literally cause pain in your ears. So what’s the answer for safeguarding your ears against volume related damage.

It’s significant here to think about the volume. An easy shorthand that’s widely suggested is the 60/60 rule: Listen with the volume at no more than 60% for 60 minutes or less at a stretch (because how long you listen for matters, too).

Create a Setting on Your Hearing Aids For Listening to Music

Be sure, if you’re utilizing hearing aids, you don’t try to drown out other sounds by cranking your streaming music up too high. And there are much healthier ways to listen to music so consult us about that also. If you’re a musician or someone who loves music you might have noticed that most hearing aids are programmed to enhance the clarity of voices…not necessarily music. While enjoying music, we can probably make various adjustments to help enhance the sound quality and minimize the feedback.

What Are The Right Headphones For You?

If you don’t have hearing aids, there are many choices for purchasing headphones. It may be a matter of personal preference, but there are some things you will want to consider there as well.

Headphones That go Over The Ears

Over the ear headphones are becoming popular again but you most likely won’t see the old foam covered speakers that once came with a walkman. Often surprisingly costly, they provide lots of color choices and celebrity endorsements, and yes, better sound quality. And unlike those little foam pads, these go over the entire ear, limiting outside sounds.

Conventional perception is that these are safer than in-ear headphones because the source of the sound is further from your eardrum. But because the speakers are larger they are normally capable of much louder volume. Noise cancellation can be a good thing as long as you’re not losing useful sounds like an oncoming car or truck. Having said that, because they block out outside noise, you can typically decrease the volume of what you’re listening to so it’s not loud enough to hurt your hearing.


The standard earbuds that come with devices like iPhones are known for their poor quality of sound, though many people still use them because hey, they came with the phone. Plus, with newer models that don’t have a headphone jack, staying with Apple’s earbuds can just be easier.

The downside, aside from the poor sound quality, is that basic earbuds don’t cancel outside noises, so you’re more likely to crank up the sound level. It’s commonly thought that inserting earbuds so close to your eardrum is the main issue but it’s really the volume.

Occluding or Isolating Earbuds

A lot of people prefer earbuds with a rounded, rubbery tip both because they’re more comfortable than traditional earbuds and better at blocking outside noises. The rubber conforms to the shape of your ear, producing a seal that stops other noises from getting in. Not to sound like a broken record, but these types of earbuds have the same disadvantages as the other two (volume is the main problem), as well as carrying the same caution as over-the-ear headphones (they can block out warning sounds). Obviously, these won’t work for you if you have hearing aids.

You may have to try out more than one pair before you find headphones that are appropriate for you. Depending on what you’re most often using them for talking on the phone, say, versus listening to music, you’ll have unique acoustic requirements. The relevant thing is to seek out headphones that make it comfortable for you to enjoy at a safe and secure volume.

How to be Certain Your Hearing is Protected

Is it Safe, How Can I be Sure? There’s an app for that…If you have a smartphone, you can get the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s free Sound Level Meter app. There are different apps out there, but research has found that the dependability of these other apps is hit-and-miss (additionally, for reasons yet unknown, Android-based apps have been shown to be less reliable). That prompted NIOSH to create their own app. The app lets you measure outside sounds, but you can also measure the sound coming from your device’s speakers, so you will know precisely how much volume your ears are getting. You have to put in a little effort, but putting in place these kinds of preventative measures can help protect your hearing.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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